Marisol Calzada: Notes Reflection

Note taking for me has always been fairly difficult. In grade school I always struggled with finding a note taking style that worked for me; I remember using a different style of note taking every month along with different pens, highlighters, tabs, etc. Nothing seemed to work until I got into university. University courses made me realize that not only am I a visual learner, but I learn and remember best through repetition.

For me note taking had been very traditional, using a notebook and a pen; recently I started taking notes on my iPad Pro and it’s been working so well for me because I can split the screen between my note taking app and other resources I’m using. In this class I have found that my note taking has changed throughout the semester. At first I would write down everything that was on the powerpoint slides shown in class, and as the course progressed I learned how to decipher the notes and jot down the most important points presented.

Annotating on an iPad

Taking notes while reading a Shakespeare play-text is a little more challenging for me. I can’t read the text like I normally would a book and that frustrates me. I have to break the text down into sections – usually by the characters dialogue. After I break the text down, I read it “normally” the first time and then again a second time trying to understand the overall meaning of the passage. After I grasped the vague understanding of the passage, I like to paraphrase in regular English. Then I go line by line highlighting-underlining anything I believe is important to the passage. I start by mapping out the rhythm of the lines, and then I start circling ”hidden” things like alliterations, assonances, repetitions, etc. or other writing techniques Shakespeare has used. This type of reading takes me a long time because I feel like Shakespeare’s writing has a lot of hidden elements that require more than just imagination and literacy. By the time I am done with the passage, there are circles, lines, arrows, and writing all over it. For some it may seem like there is an excess of writing on it, but like I previously mentioned, I’m a visual learner and all the writing helps me keep my ideas and thoughts organized.

Taking notes on a film is a very different experience for me. Like most people, when I watch a movie I want to enjoy it rather than take notes on it; but on the occasion that I have to write annotations I start by reading a synopsis of the movie so I know what the general plot is about. When it comes to Shakespeare storylines in films, I like to understand how the characters are connected to each other; this helps to understand the plot. I tend to pay too much attention to the film and forget to write notes, so I make “mental notes” about scenes that I believe are important. The music in the movie helps me determine which scenes are more important than others because music guides our emotions. After I watch the movie and I have a good understanding of the plot, I can go back and find a specific scene and pause/rewind it if I need to analyze it a bit more.

If I ever need to compare a play-text and a film of the play, I always start by annotating the play-text first and then I will watch the movie. By annotating the play-text first, I am able to dissect the meaning of the texts while imagining the story line in my head. I believe that’s what helps me decipher the differences the director makes in the film because I have already created “a film” of my own in my head and if it doesn’t match up then the differences stick out to me.

I know my annotations have been successful if I can paraphrase the play-text/film to another person, or if I can have an in-depth discussion about the play-text/film. I believe more times out of none, my play-text annotations are more successful because I have the ability to reread and “marinate” my brain in the words that are right in front of me, which give me the liberty to go at my own pace. Film annotations are more difficult because the pace of the story-line is much faster and frequently pausing the film can take away from the experience the director intended his audience to have.

Marisol Calzada: Film Review (Twelfth Night 1996)

Trevor Nunn was the director of the film, Twelfth Night: Or What You Will. It’s an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which is a romantic comedy about siblings that become separated in a shipwreck, mistaken identities, and true love. It starts off at sea during which a storm begins leaving twin siblings, Sebastian and Viola, shipwrecked believing that the other one has died, and thus each starting a new life when each is separately washed up to the shores of an ancient country called Illyria. Sebastian decides to lay low with the help of his new friend, Antonio. Believing that being a woman in Illyria would be a threat, Viola disguises herself as a man by dressing in her brothers uniform, cutting her hair off, and pasting a false mustache on her face, and going by the name Cesario. She ends up befriending the Duke of Illyria, Orsinio, who is madly in love with Lady Olivia. A problem arises when Lady Olivia falls in love with Cesario (actually Viola), and Viola falls in love with Orsinio. Not being able to tell either on that she is a woman, Viola creates scenes that are very entertaining and humorous to the audience watching.

Nunn, who was previously the Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and later of the Royal Nation Theater, was more than qualified to adapt such a great Shakespeare play to film. Prior to directing Twelfth Night, he had directed musicals, dramas, and operas for the stage, as well as being nominated and winning multiple Tony Awards and Laurence Olivier Awards. His experience with successfully transforming literature into scripts for the stage allowed him to transform Shakespeare literature into film. He ultimately chose to uphold the integrity of the play by keeping it set in Illyria, but took the freedom to update the play’s time and overall setting to the 19th Century. He also chose to reorder the sequence of some scenes in order for back-story of the play to make sense on film. The naturally comedic feeling of this Shakespeare play ultimately allowed Nunn to create a film from his interpretations of the film while upholding the films integrity by keeping the key elements of the plot intact.

The modern stories of disguise are rarely realistic, which is why Nunn chose to add the beginning scene where it is determined that Sebastian and Viola are professional performers; thus making the audience believe that Viola’s disguise later on would be credible.

It is critical that casting is done properly and that only actors that understand the importance of rhythm in Shakespeare’s writing are chosen. Nunn’s previous experience with the RSC provided him with an advantage in casting because he knows the importance of not only the actors rhythm, but also the chemistry between the actors, especially when there is any form of romance in the story. Helena Bonham Carter was the perfect actress for the role of Olivia. She was able to capture the essence of the sweet and naïve character that has fallen for the woman disguised as a man; this simply and effortlessly adds to the comedic feel of the story. Imogen Stubbs (Viola) and Steven Mackintosh (Sebastian) make for a great pair on the screen. The chemistry and bond that real life siblings would have cannot only be seen on the screen, but the sincerity of the relationship can be “felt” through the screen. Not only was the casting perfect because of the bond the two actors created on screen, but also because the two actually look alike and could genuinely pass as siblings in real life. Nunn definitely used this to his advantage and filmed them in such a way that magnified and showcased their striking similarities.

twins

In Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, there is fairytale-like feeling to them. This was echoed in the setting of the film as well as the editing. The castle that Olivia lives in reminds us of the castles that were in the fairytales that we grew up with such as Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast; this can play into our idea of true love.

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Overall the movie is a great interpretation of a very popular Shakespeare play that does justice to Shakespeare’s language, writing, and vision. Nunn did a very good job of making the story his own as well as having creative freedom with the setting, all without disrespecting Shakespeare’s work. Ultimately it simplifies Shakespeare’s language and allows younger generations to be captivated by Shakespeare’s works.